Kielbasa, or Polish sausage, has a satisfyingly garlicky flavor and a coarse texture. You'll find it made with ground pork, but some versions also contain ground beef or turkey, and seasoned with garlic, smoke flavoring and marjoram.
Most kielbasa is fully cooked before packaging, but grilling it caramelizes the meat and enhances its smoky flavor. Grilling precooked sausage only reheats the kielbasa, so you have leeway in how you do it.
How to Grill Whole, Precooked Sausage
- Slice precooked kielbasa in half lengthwise before grilling. This will result in sausage that has more of the smoky char and fit better into a bun.
- No need to boil precooked Polish sausage before laying it on the grill as it's already precooked.
- To prevent the casing from splitting when it hits the grill, place it on the grill rack with a low- to moderate-heat level.
- Lay the whole sausages toward the cooler section of the grill, usually the outer areas, or on an elevated rack about 9 inches from the heat source — if your grill has one.
- Precooked sausages are done after about 10 minutes, according to the Johnsonville website. Watch for grill marks to form, and aim for an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, according to FoodSafety.gov.
How to Grill Fresh Sausage
Fresh Polish sausage is raw, so you must cook it thoroughly. While you can put a fresh sausage on the grill, it'll take a while to cook through, and the casing may shrink as the meat expands — leading to oozing and splitting.
- To ensure your sausage cooks thoroughly, and to avoid splitting, parboil the sausages first. Lay the sausages in boiling liquid — beer, broth or water — and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, according to Bon Appetit.
- Do not slice fresh sausage in half if you plan to grill it from the raw state, but if you parboil it -- slice away.
- To grill, aim for a low heat to slowly grill fresh sausages; otherwise, the exterior burns, and the interior remains raw.
- Place sausages on the grill for just enough time to create a smoky char in the form of grill marks and light browning.
- Raw sausages cooked exclusively on the grill will take about 45 minutes. Aim for an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to Prevent Dry Sausage
If you expect a lag time between cooking the sausage and serving it, consider grilling the sausage in a disposable aluminum pan surrounded by sauerkraut, juicy onions and peppers or another complementary sauce. You won't end up with the same grill marks, but you will have a juicy, flavorful meal.
Alternatively, heat the sauerkraut separately and place the grilled sausages into it right after they're done cooking. This will keep them warm and juicy, but still give you the browning you're after.
Or blend the two options. Place the sausage on a moderate- to high-heat grill for just a few minutes per side to develop grill marks. Then place the sausages into the disposable pan with kraut, onions and peppers or broth and onions to continue to cook on the grill until they reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit.